Muslims, Buddhists Search for Justice in Thailand's Restive South

August 8, 2006

Source: BBC News

On August 8, 2006 BBC News reported, "In the third of a series of articles from southern Thailand, the BBC's Kate McGeown meets people who have been personally affected by the ongoing insurgency, and follows their struggle for justice. 'When I found out my son was dead, I felt that everything had gone from my life,' said Arshae Sani.

'If he'd died in a natural way, from a disease or an accident, I wouldn't be angry,' she said. 'But what happened to my son was the government's fault.'

Arshae Sani's son, Mauseng, was one of 85 Muslims to die in Takbai on 25 October 2004 - one of the most defining events in the ongoing violence in the Thai south, which has its roots in an Islamic separatist campaign against the Buddhist authorities. Some of the men were shot by security forces during a protest that turned violent, but most suffocated after being forced into army trucks and driven to a camp in the next province.

Their families maintain that their only crime was to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just 10 minutes down the road from Arshae Sani's home, a 21-year-old Buddhist man named Tanapon Kheuwkhem is another victim of this insurgency. Late last year he was shot by two men on motorbikes, who came from the direction of Arshae Sani's Muslim village.

One bullet hit a nerve in his lower back, and he will never be able to walk properly again... There are people like Arshae Sani and Tanapon Kheuwkhem throughout Thailand's deep south, whose lives are blighted by the constant bombings and shootings.

But it is obvious that by far the greatest sense of grievance comes from the Muslim community - many of whom feel that even after an incident of the scale of Takbai, officials are refusing to treat them in the same way as their Buddhist neighbours."